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RETREAT OF FIRST LADY A BAD SIGN

In my youth, schoolgirls with good grades hid their scholarly achievement lest they be mocked by their classmates, particularly the most desirable boys.

Something similar is happening now to the main woman in the White House. And with first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in retreat from her original high-wattage image, Republican women who would like to replace her in the White House are in full flight, too.The Hillary model of modern, smart, policymaking professional is out. The Barbara Bush silent companion model is back in.

The wives of the major GOP presidential candidates are, like Hillary Clinton, formidable women accustomed to public life and serious responsibilities beyond their own hearthstone.

Only Charlene Lugar, wife of the Indiana senator, never had an outside career, but she has been prominent in charity volunteer work and pioneered mobile prenatal clinics in Indianapolis.